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Josh Taylor returned to the UK on Tuesday as the new star of British boxing – but minus his five belts, which were lost in transit in Dallas.
The Scotsman, who is the undisputed world super-lightweight champion, landed at Heathrow Airport and then took a private jet with his training staff to Edinburgh.
When you are the only British fighter to have held all the titles in the four-belt era, bauble-carrying pales, perhaps. “It doesn’t matter about the belts,” Taylor, who beat Jose Ramirez in Las Vegas on Saturday night, told Telegraph Sport from a private airport 20 miles from Heathrow on Tuesday afternoon.
“They got lost on the way home. I’ve signed the forms for them to come on. But even if they aren’t in my hands, they are my belts. It would have been nice to come home with them but they’ll all get here at some point.”
There was a modesty about Taylor’s achievement from the man himself, as if – after the 30-year-old’s two knockdowns of Ramirez in rounds six and seven proved the difference in his unanimous points victory – there is much, much more to come. Bigger nights, bigger fights, even though he will not admit it, are already on his athletic and warrior mind.
There was certainly not a tinge of disappointment apparent on Tuesday that he was not being able to sling the belts over his shoulder to cross the border into Scotland.
Taylor, wearing sunglasses to cover his darkened eyes and showing his left hand bruised and very swollen, was simply looking forward to being back with his family and friends after a long camp. By retaining his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association belts and claiming the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organisation titles from Ramirez, Taylor joined famed Ken Buchanan as the second undisputed champion from Scotland, exactly 50 years after Buchanan was world lightweight champion in the two world title belt era, in 1971.
In just 18 fights undefeated, Taylor has established himself as one of the sport’s truly elite fighters, and yet his contest with Ramirez was not aired on one of the main broadcast channels. There has been outrage from boxing fans that it was not picked up by Sky Sports with many urging BBC Scotland, Sky or BT Sport to show a replay of Saturday night’s absorbing, relentless contest.
“I think it should be, definitely,” Taylor responded. “It was a great fight, history was made, and they should put it on the BBC or Sky or on the main channels so the public can view it.”
He added: “I dedicated a lot to this fight and it’s paid off. It’s not sunk in yet. I’m just sobering up now. I think when I get back it will sink in within a couple of days. The worst pain is my hands. They started swelling up, in round 10. Apart from that, the fight was actually quite an easy fight, believe it or not. It went the way that me and my trainer Ben Davison thought it would go.” Taylor will visit Buchanan in the next few days, the old fighter having seen a 10-year-old who had the makings of a great boxer in his mind.
“He saw something in me and told me way back when, in my old amateur club, and that moment and his words always inspired me,” Taylor said. “Ken’s not been too well, but yeah, it’ll be great to see Ken and the other Scots and receive their reception. To be honest, these were strange times, as we all know. It would have been nice to have the family there. I missed them not being there.”
Had he seen the whole fight yet? “I’ve only watched highlights. I’ll watch the whole fight when I get home.”
But Taylor was dissatisfied about two issues. “There was the delay to restart after the second knockdown of Ramirez, from referee Kenny Bayless. That could have cost me a stoppage. It was a long time, that count. It was something like 20 seconds. “And the judges tried to rob me on the scoring as well. We had a lot of people against me from the start. I didn’t want the three judges they selected. But I didn’t want to complain too much. Kenny Bayless was then on my case the whole time, threatening to take points from me.”
For now, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medallist will be at home in Prestonpans, to rest with family.
Taylor, who already held The Ring title at 140lb, has also been raised to No 5 from No 9 in the pound-for-pound rankings with the magazine.
“I’m going to enjoy this and chill out. It’s been a long, long camp,” said Taylor before boarding a small plane with his crew.
“It’s been the best part of eight months preparing for this fight, so I’m going to switch off and chill out for a bit. We’ll then start all over again.”
This will be the start of a very high profile journey which will begin with a homecoming fight in Edinburgh. “I want to get a fight in Edinburgh with a huge crowd. I want to fight at Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road for the fans.” Taylor is now truly in the big time.